After jumping out to a 3-0 overall lead on Friday, the 25th-ranked Kansas women’s tennis team dropped the final four matches and lost a heart-breaker to No. 27 UC-Santa Barbara, 4-3, in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
The loss ends KU’s season with a record of 15-11.
The Jayhawks got the day started on a positive note in Stanford, California, sweeping all three doubles matches to pick up the lone doubles point awarded in the match.
In standard head-to-head competition, teams select six players to play three doubles sets, with the winner of two or three of those sets earning the team point toward the final score of the match.
KU seniors Malkia Ngounoue and Julia Deming won their doubles match 6-2 and senior Sonia Smagina and sophomore Raphaelle Lacasse followed that up with a 6-4 win. Redshirt freshman Maria Titova and junior Carmen Roxana Manu completed the sweep by winning their set 6-5.
Manu was the first to add to the Jayhawks’ lead, with a 6-3, 7-5 win in her singles match, and Smagina won in three sets (6-1, 4-6, 6-1) to push KU’s lead to 3-0.
Despite rallying after a 6-1 loss in her opening singles match, Ngounoue dropped the match 1-6, 7-6, 2-6, and UCSB (21-6) capitalized on that momentum.
Titova (4-6, 7-5, 3-6) and senior Tiffany Lagarde (6-1, 5-7, 3-6) both also lost in three sets, which evened the match at three wins apiece and left KU’s hopes in the hands freshman Mariana Manyoma-Velasquez in the final singles clash of the match against UCSB’s Filippa Bruu-Syversen.
After falling in the opening set, 7-6, Manyoma-Velasquez rallied to win the second set in a tiebreaker 7-5. She trailed 4-5 in the second set and won the last three games to force a third set.
After playing even (4-4) through eight games, Bruu-Syversen won the final two games of the singles match to propel UCSB into the second round.
This year’s appearance in the NCAA Tournament was the first for the KU women since 2019, when they made a run to the Sweet 16. It marked the program’s fifth trip to the NCAA Tournament under head coach Todd Chapman and the 12th all-time appearance.